April 25, 2010

Recent @Iamknaan tweets got me thinkin'...

On twitter I am following @Iamknaan. This, of course, is the spectacular K'naan (Fongolia over on Fong Songs recently wrote a post about his awesome performance during the Olympics), currently mostly known for his song Wavin' Flag, but I'm sure he is soon to be known for his incredible musical gift and honest, soul-touching, though-provoking lyrics. Recently K'naan retweeted a comment by a fan that got me thinking. The comment read: " Africans in the media: stop being "conveniently African" to further your career in the western world. Quit fronting for your nation. " K'naan retorted by saying that these people are the worst kind of racists and was quite offended by the fan's comments.

Although I love K'naan (and still do!) I have to say that I don't really agree with some of his comments or some of the fan's. I have some thoughts dribblin' through my head, so I thought I'd come here and use this blog medium to tell the world my point of view.

  • The fan was clearly aiming this comment at K'naan since he had earlier made a comment about K'naan being on stage receiving awards while others actually go to Africa and build houses. So right away we know that the guy's a douchebag. This fan obviously has no understanding of the power of music and how much an artist can accomplish for their plight if they have honest goals and are truly working for the benefit of said plight. Look at Bono from U2. He meets with world leaders, affects government policies and empowers people. K'naan's music and his media presence do a lot to promote a better understanding of Somalia, Somalian people and Africa in general. I myself have learned a lot from him without having met him!
  • On that note, I recently listened to K'naan's interview with Jian Ghomeshi on 'The Q' here in Canada where K'naan says that he prefers not to be considered a political artist. So I don't like to say that K'naan has this agenda to promote Somalia or become some kind of political messenger, but like Jian says in the interview, when your music is as thought-provoking and honest as K'naan's, you are thrust into the position of spokesperson. K'naan is already constantly asked about Somalia, the treatment of Somalia by the "western world" and Africa in general. And people listen. He is affecting the way people think. And people affect governments. Fame brings responsibilities that you cannot choose. This is one of them for K'naan.
  • With regards to K'naan's comment that this fan is a racist, I disagree strongly. How can he be called a racist just because he addressed the "Africans in media"? Sure, it was a broad statement, but there is no hatred towards any race in that comment. He's expressing his disgust with certain people in media who exploit their backgrounds and cultures for money and fame instead of truly embracing their roots. The fact that The Fan is white is irrelevant. I actually have an issue that K'naan finds his colour relevant as a little more racist. If he was black but still non-African would it be different? If he was black and African (by heritage only) would his comment then be acceptable and valid?
  • One of K'naan's friends @Ylook then tweeted that aid is accompanied by appropriation which then leads to exploitation. Wow. Really? Appropriation? Exploitation? This implies that aid workers are to blame for the appropriation and exploitation that sometimes occurs when people provide aid. There are plenty of aid workers out there giving their life to help complete strangers that do not have hidden agendas. To lump them into a category like that does not make sense. Sure, while the aid is being delivered, you always get the vultures that come in and try to make a business out of it, but that often has nothing to do with the actual aid workers.
  • Also, aid workers are naturally going to feel a lot of association with the people they are working with. It may even lead to the aid worker feeling more at home and more accepted in this new place, but I would never call that appropriation and they definitely do not intend to exploit anyone. I would consider it the same as someone coming to Canada from Kenya and enjoying it so much that they settle down, start a family and start to think of themselves as Canadian (kind of like my parents!). Why should we treat it any differently?
Anyways, these are just thoughts passing through my head and I might not even fully agree with them tomorrow, but I had to put my two bits out there.

I should conclude, I suppose, by saying that RACISM SUCKS. Even if we just say something in jest or to rile up a friend, it still counts as racism and it still promotes poor behaviour. I have to say that I have never really experienced racism against me. Living in Canada, maybe I just got lucky, but I like to think that it's because I really don't let it happen and I never assume that racism is the reason for any slight against me. We make these kinds of choices everyday and they mold our personality. So I guess my message for all you readers (all 2 of you! lol) is: racism stops with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment